Feds were pre­par­ing to charge 17-year-old

Sus­pect had been on au­thor­i­ties’ radar since back in mid­dle school.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Han­nah Win­ston Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

JUPITER — A week be­fore Corey John­son con­fessed to stab­bing three peo­ple — one of them fa­tally — in a Palm Beach Gar­dens home, au­thor­i­ties were dis­cussing pend­ing fed­eral crim­i­nal charges against the 17-year-old, ac­cord­ing to a Jupiter po­lice re­port.

John­son was ar­rested Mon­day on charges of first-de­gree mur­der and at­tempted mur­der af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors say he killed 13-yearold Jo­vanni Sierra and stabbed Elaine Si­mon, 43, and her son, 13-year-old Dane Ban­croft, dur­ing a sleep­over at a home in Bal­lenIsles County Club. John­son told po­lice his faith is what led him to the vi­o­lent acts.

But be­fore the vi­o­lent Palm Beach Gar­dens at­tack, even as early as mid­dle school, John­son had been on the radar of law en­force­ment, the re­port said.

In Jan­uary 2017, sev­eral lo­cal law-en­force­ment agen­cies and the FBI came to­gether with the staff at Wil­liam T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gar­dens, where he was a stu­dent at the time. The Palm Beach County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that John­son sup­ported the Is­lamic State ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion and had reached out to the

group on­line, ex­press­ing his de­sire to join them.

A de­tec­tive with the sher­iff ff’ s of­fif­fice in­ter­viewed John­son for a men­tal health as­sess­ment and said the teen sym­pa­thized with ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions, the re­port said.

Palm Beach County School District po­lice said that dur­ing mid­dleschool, John­son made anti-Semitic and anti-ho­mo­sex­ual state­ments, as well as say­ing that he had sim­i­lar be­liefs to the Ku Klux Klan. School po­lice said they re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that John­son “hasvi­o­lent ten­den­cies, ”“has spo­ken about in­ap­pro­pri­ate places to bomb” and “is awhite su­prem­a­cist.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also learned there were sev­eral guns in­side of John­son’s res­i­dence, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. His fam­ily later told in­ves­ti­ga­tors there were guns in his mother’ s home but they were locked in a safe.

When John­son’s mother and grand­par­ents were in­ter­viewed by law en­force­ment, they said John­son was fas­ci­nated with dic­ta­tors such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong Un. The said he had “re­cently be­gan dis­cov­er­ing re­li­gion” and study­ing the Qu­ran.

Af­ter the meet­ing, the FBI told Jupiter po­lice that a counter in­tel­li­gence agency in Europe in­ves­ti­gated John­son’ s con­nec­tion to sev­eral threats made on In sta gram to Mc Au­ley Catholic High School in Don­caster, Eng­land, aswell. Though the re­port does not say­what the threats were to the school, au­thor­i­ties said the “threats were so se­vere in na­ture that up to 100 stu­dents were re­moved from the school fear­ing some kind of at­tack.” Bri­tish news out­lets re­ported that in Oc­to­ber 2016, there­was a threat posted on In­sta­gram that stated “we will kill ev­ery sin­gle in­fi­del stu­dent at this school.”

In the weeks fol­low­ing, law en­force­ment mon­i­tored John­son’s move­ments and his so­cial-me­dia ac­counts and in­ter­viewed his fam­ily. Au­thor­i­ties noted his had the im­age of a swastika as its profile pic­ture.

Ini­tially, the FBI did not want to charge John­son be­cause he was a ju­ve­nile and “be­lieved a re­di­rect­ion ap­proach would be the­most ben­e­fi­cial re­gard­ing his con­duct.” So in March 2017, the FBI got con­sent to “mir­ror” John­son’s com­puter ac­tiv­ity.

Ad­di­tion­ally, they spoke with the teen — who de­nied any afil­i­a­tion with IS — and told him “to cease all so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to IS IS and any other ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion” and have no fur­ther con­tact with the Catholic high school in Eng­land, the re­port said.

Bythe sum­mer of 2017, the FBI said John­son was back to mak­ing more on­line posts and that they were work­ing to bring of­fif­fi­cial charges against him, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice re­port.

In Fe­bru­ary, the FBI said they had all the ev­i­dence they needed and that an as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney said that there was prob­a­ble cause to charge John­son.

On March 5, Jupiter po­lice checked in with the FBI to see where they were with the fed­eral charges and the agent said the a ff iffi davits would be “com­ing in the next sev­eral weeks.”

Aweek later, John­son was in jail for the fa­tal stab­bing in Palm Beach Gar­dens.

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